THE Patriotic Front (PF) Government is posed to provide an additional 4, 500 bed spaces in Correctional Services (formerly known as prisons) to the existing 8, 500 by the end of 2017, Acting President Inonge Wina had said.
Ms Wina said the PF Government was going to provide additional bedspaces without putting any strain to the Treasury.
She said her Government remained committed to resolving the problem of severe congestion in Correctional Centres which the Human Rights Commission in 2014 termed “endemic with no sign of reducing in the short term”.
Ms Lungu, who is Zambia’s Republican Vice President, was speaking yesterday in Livingstone at AVANI Victoria Falls Hotel when she officially opened the 6th United Nations Conference on International Corrections in Peace Keeping and Post Conflict Situation.
The conference was hosted by the Zambia Correctional Service previously known as Zambia Prisons Service.
“We are poised to provide an additional 4, 500 bed spaces to the existing 8, 500 by the end of 2017 to address the problem of congestion in Correctional centres.
“Moreover, we are going to do that without putting any strain to the treasury, ” Ms Wina said.
She said the PF Government had in the last five years changed the face of the Zambia Correctional Services.
Ms Wina said the Government had decided to confront the challenges affecting Correctional Institutions and huge improvements had been achieved.
She said that just after assuming power in 2011, the PF Government found neglected correctional institutions, demorolised staff and that the neglect was evident from the congestion that was estimated at 300 per cent before 2011.
“Before my Government came into office we had cases of inadequate facilities for skills training, dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate staffing.
“Government has invested in new Correctional infrastructure, recruiting and retraining of staff to meet the requirement of a truly modern Correctional institution,” MS Wina said.
She said Government had since 2011 built and opened five new Correctional centres in five different provinces which were the five new Correctional Centres that the country had built since the 1970s.
Ms Wina further said that in developing countries with limited resources, the vulnerability of inmates of correctional institutions in developing countries was however evident from the state of most Correctional Institutions.
She said most Correctional facilities were old and were in a state of disrepair adding that most of such facilities remained in use and more often hold more inmates than their original designed capacity, thereby causing congestion.
“The vulnerability of inmates of correctional institutions in developing countries emanate from the urge to get offenders punished for their misdeeds. The urge to see offenders punished, also explains the indifference of many people to the problem of correctional institutions and the suffering of inmates.
“However, the inmates of correctional institutions are human beings too, they are friends, fathers, mothers and indeed brothers and sisters, “she said.
She said Justice demanded that people upheld the dignity and rights of all human beings including suspects, remandies and inmates.
She said there was also need to observe the rights of the inmates which was a compelling reason for transforming the focus of justice system from punishment to rehabilitation of the offenders.
“The rehabilitation of offenders should be primary focus of the justice system during conflict and after conflict.
“The neglect of correctional facilities may include failure to provide adequate ration ,bedding and clothing for inmates .Such circumstances results in the violations of inmates abd such violations suddenly occur even in countries that are parties of the International Human Rights Conventions, “she said.
Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Maman Sidikou said most prisons often did not receive sufficient funding to even provide minimum feeding for inmates additing that prison personnel were often insufficient in terms of numbers and were poorly paid, under equipped ,inadequately trained and unvetted.
Mr Sidikou said such practices resulted in officers being demotivated, demoralised and were unable to prevent or respond to prison incidences adequately.
Zambia Correctional Services Commissioner General Percy Chato said the Zambia Correctional Services was more than ready to share the best practices in order to operate stable facilities in post conflict countries.
Mr Chato said the Zambia Correctional Service had seconded a total of 25 personnel in peacekeeping missions since 2007.